Preston Band, formed in 1934, are one of Australia’s most distinguished A Grade bands. They have been awarded the Champion Victorian State A-Grade Brass Band title on four occasions in recent years (2013-16). The band has also featured in the placings at the Australian National Band Championships for three of the past five years. In 2015, Preston Band performed with the New Zealand Dance Company at the Melbourne Arts Centre in the Contemporary Ballet ‘Rotunda’. In 2016, they released their first ever CD, a Christmas recording titled “Ding Dong Darebin on High”. In 2017, Preston Band recorded their second CD, “Darebin Strikes Back”, featuring movie themes.
Preston Band regularly performs for the Darebin community at concerts and local events. The band performs annually at Anzac Day services, National Servicemen services, Carols by Candlelight at All Nations Park and the #darebinxmas live sites across the Darebin area. Preston Band are also invited to perform at large events, such as the Bright Autumn Festival, Port Fairy Spring Festival and AFL Grand Final Parade.
Andrew Snell was born in Taunton, Somerset, and after a less than successful spell of piano lessons, started playing trombone at the age of 10. After playing with the local town bands and county youth bands and orchestras he moved to Manchester to study at University College, Salford.
After gaining a BA (Hons) in Band Musicianship he moved across the Pennines to take up the position of Bass Trombone with the world-renowned Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
With Grimethorpe he toured extensively, including Australia, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, New Zealand and Hong Kong, and won the National Brass Band Championships and the British Open Championships, the two premier band competitions in the UK. He was involved in the recording of many CDs, radio and television programmes, including the Eurovision Song Contest with an estimated audience of 100 million and the making of the hit film Brassed Off! for which Grimethorpe received two gold discs, one in the UK and another in Australia.
His conducting experience started at college where he studied under Dave King and Roy Newsome. He returned to Salford in 1997 where he was a finalist in the Young Conductor of the Year competition and has conducted bands including Grimethorpe, Yorkshire Imps, British Steel Teeside and EYMS. Whilst conducting EYMS the band won the North of England Championship and gained a place in the prizes at the prestigious Grand Shield Contest. He has also conducted at contests as varied as The All-England Masters Championship and the National Mineworkers Brass Band Championship. Andrew has performed with musicians as diverse as Vanessa Mae, Lesley Garrett, James Morrison and Nigel Kennedy.
He left Grimethorpe in 2002, after 11 years as a member, and emigrated to New Zealand where he was engaged as Musical Director with Waitakere City ‘Trusts’ Brass; one of New Zealand’s premiere brass bands, whom he directed to become the Champion Band of Australia at Easter 2003 in Newcastle, New South Wales. Since leaving NZ for Australia in 2004 he has worked as Lecturer in Brass and Musicianship at Charles Darwin University, Orchestra Manager for the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Opera Australia) in Sydney and Chief Executive Officer of the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music. In October 2013 he took up the position of Managing Director of Victorian Opera.
Andrew commenced his role as MD of Preston Band in September 2015 and he has guided the band to three Victorian State Championships in 2014-16 (2014-15 as interim conductor). In 2017, he guided the band to 3rd place at the Australian National Bands Championships.
Andrew has a deep commitment to the enrichment of quality of life through performing, teaching and the management of all things musical. He is fiercely passionate about music and music education.